KU basketball’s Jalen Wilson wins Julius Erving Award for NCAA’s top small forward

Kansas junior Jalen Wilson has been named winner of the Julius Erving Award, which recognizes the top small forward in NCAA Division I men’s basketball, it was announced Saturday.

Wilson, 6-8 from Denton, Texas, was one of five finalists for the honor that included Brandon Miller (Alabama), Julian Strawther (Gonzaga), Keyontae Johnson (Kansas State) and Jaime Jaquez Jr. (UCLA).

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced the honor Saturday on ESPN College GameDay, which originated from the Final Four in Houston.

The award is named after Class of 1993 Hall of Famer and 16-year professional basketball player Julius Erving. Wilson has been on the Julius Erving Award watch lists since the beginning of the season.

“I am very honored to receive this award,” Wilson said in a release. “Julius Erving is one of the greatest players of all time. I want to congratulate the other finalists on having great seasons. I want to thank coach (Bill) Self and the other coaches helping me become the player I am today.

“More importantly, I want to thank my teammates, my brothers, who pushed me every day. Though we did not achieve our ultimate goal, we did have a great season, winning the Big 12 in the toughest conference in the nation. Playing at Kansas is a blessing and winning this award represents KU as much as me.”

One of four Naismith Trophy and one of five Wooden Award finalists, Wilson is Kansas’ 32nd all-time Consensus All-America first-team honoree. He was unanimous Big 12 Player of the Year and All-Big 12 First team.

Wilson led the Big 12 in scoring at 20.1 points per game, rebounds at 8.3 and double-doubles with 12.

Previous winners of the Julius Erving Award: Wendell Moore Jr., Duke (2022), Corey Kispert, Gonzaga (2021), Saddiq Bey, Villanova (2020), Rui Hachimura, Gonzaga (2019), Mikal Bridges, Villanova (2018), Josh Hart, Villanova (2017), Denzel Valentine, Michigan State (2016) and Stanley Johnson, Arizona (2015).

The Julius Erving Award is one of the Hall of Fame’s starting five honors. Other awards presented include the Bob Cousy Award (Point Guard), Jerry West Award (Shooting Guard), Karl Malone Award (Power Forward) and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award (Center). Kansas’ Frank Mason III was the 2017 recipient of the Bob Cousy Award.